Statement of Senator Feinstein on Increased Water Allocations for California’s Drought-Stricken Central Valley
Apr 21 2009
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded news from the Bureau of Reclamation that the federal agency has increased the allocation of water for California’s drought-stricken Central Valley. The revised allocations are based on the April 1 runoff forecast from the California Department of Water Resources.
“The drought in California’s Central Valley is a major emergency. The impact of this crisis is severe, and the cost is enormous,” Senator Feinstein said. “On the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, some communities have more than 40 percent unemployment, largely due to the lack of water and the economic downturn. Food banks, which are funded and supplied mainly by charitable contributions, have run out of supplies and people are leaving empty-handed. Many annual crop fields have been fallowed, and those that haven’t are being giving the bare minimum of water. Broccoli is growing out of cracked, parched earth. Rows upon rows of dead fruit and nut trees line Interstate 5. The list goes on.
There is some good news, however. The Bureau of Reclamation today announced that it has increased the allocation of water for the region – thanks to an above-average rainfall in March – as follows:
- Agriculture: For farmers south of the Delta, the allocation of water is increased to 10 percent of their contract water supplies, up from zero. For farmers north of the Delta, the allocation is increased to 15 percent, up from 5 percent.
- Municipal and industrial use: the allocation for south of the Delta is increased to 60 percent, up from 50 percent. For north of the Delta, the allocation is increased to 65 percent, up from 55 percent.
- The allocation for settlement contractors and wildlife refuges (class II) water will remain at 100 percent.
- The allocation for Friant users of class I water is increased to 90 percent, up from 65 percent.
This is a prudent first step and I commend the Bureau for taking this action.
The Bureau also announced that it is taking several steps to help the west side of the San Joaquin Valley address this water supply crisis:
- to make the San Joaquin Valley a top priority for the $40 million in drought relief funding announced by the Interior Department last week as part of the stimulus program;
- to provide operational flexibility to convey and store water;
- to explore all avenues for providing additional water; and
- to facilitate water transfers from areas that have more water through the State’s Drought Water Bank, working closely with State officials.
Much more needs to be done, but this is a good first step.”